By Acarya dasa, All-India Padayatra leader
On February 7 the All-India Padayatra reached Vataman Chokdi, a village in Gujarat at a crossroads about 135km south of Ahmedabad. We had planned to celebrate Nityananda Trayodasi there and wanted to stay for the day, but there was a local yatra and the village sarpancha (political headman), Mr Dhirubhai, insisted we should keep moving. However, when our cart arrived, he and his wife had darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar, and being impressed said, “Please stay for two more days.” As we celebrated Nityananda Trayodasi they again had darshan of Their Lordships and participated in the abhishek. Mr Dhirubhai then walked with us for two days and attended all the programmes.
A fearful night
Then we headed towards Pimpalgaon. As I entered the village with Bhadrabalaram dasa and Shambunath dasa a man started shouting at us: “Why are you entering our village? There are already so many saints here. We don’t need you. Go away.” Feeling quite upset, we returned to the outskirts of the village, but the man followed us and persisted in yelling at us to leave. Shambunath and I then went to Bhavnagar to arrange our accommodation there for Gaura-purnima, leaving Bhadrabalaram outside Pimpalgaon waiting for our ratha. While he was there the same man approached him and struck his head three times with a rod. Laying injured, Bhadrabalaram was about to be hit again when our ratha arrived and Dhirnayak dasa ran towards the bully, scaring him away. I returned to Pimpalgaon with Shambunath soon after, but by now it was late evening and there was no alternative for the padayatris but to camp outside the village. Just as we were settling down for the night our antagonist returned with several associates to drive us away. One of them said, “Once we gave shelter to a sadhu, but he was not a real sadhu and he left after stealing our valuables.” I replied, “If we were thieves why would we come in bullock carts? We are devotees who spread the message of God everywhere.” But they were not listening and although they left, we spent a sleepless night afraid they would come back and attack us.
One more crisis
The next morning, we moved on to Dholeragaon where a resident, Kalu Bhai, assisted us in many ways and a place for us to stay had been agreed at a Swami Narayana temple. As our kitchen team was cooking that afternoon, the vessel containing oil caught fire as the flame of the stove increased. All the vessels then started burning and there was black smoke everywhere as if the whole building was ablaze, causing panic among the padayatris. After a while, with the help of the temple authorities we had the situation under control. It was the climax of a week spent in dire uncertainty. Once on the Vraja-mandala parikrama there was a terrific rain storm that kept people indoors out of fear, but eventually all the devotees came out and started dancing in sankirtan. Radharaman Maharaja said, “The Lord sometimes puts us in difficulties so that we remember Him more.” We therefore prayed to Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and also offered a prayer to Lord Narasingha-dev to protect us. Then everything became peaceful.
jagatera hita ha -uka-ei prabhura mana
danda kari kare tara hrdaya sodhana (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 7.140)
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is always eager to see everyone happy in this material world. Therefore, sometimes He chastises someone just to purify his heart.